Saturday, 21 January 2012

Value-added meat (Κρεατικά με προστιθέμενη αξία)

The town of Hania is the urban centre of the prefecture of Hania, which is the westernmost province of Crete. In Hania, you'll find gaudy concrete apartment blocks, shops and traffic. You may be reminded of an urban nightmare, as some parts of it are truly aesthetically distasteful. If it weren't for the old Venetian port, Hania would not be the charming place it is considered to be by many tourists.

fortezza cafe
The Fortezza cafe at the Venetian harbour is no longer operating...

If you love the idea of living on a Mediterranean island but prefer an urban environment within it, then you would enjoy living in a place like Hania. You won't need transport to get around because it's a small town and everything is clustered close together. The Agora and the shops around it will supply you with everything you need in your daily life. Living in the town means that you will also have more creature comforts available to you than people in rural areas have. And that Venetian port will be a stone's throw away from your home...

Chicken is a (generally cheap) healthy meat - everything in this photo has been prepared with chicken.

One of those comforts is the range of products available to you. Outside the town, you can still find everything you need, but some things will cost more, many things will be available only through a supermarket, and not everything that is store-bought in a rural area will be fresh. This is only natural since most people living in the Cretan countryside often have some form of own production.

 Filled pork mini-rolls, seftalia, marinated souvlaki, plain souvlaki, pork kebabs, boli (stuffed meat and mince patties wrapped in fat), beef kebabs, meat pizza (the base is made of meat chunks)

The disadvantages of being a foodie and living in the town are that you might have a small kitchen and limited space for storage. So you'll prefer to buy things that don't need much preparation time. That's where Yiannis the butcher comes in handy. His display is one of the most alluring in the whole area. One look, and you will be hooked. There's a great variety of processed fresh meat products to choose from.

Various breaded and marinated meat chunks

You can also buy meat in its most basic form, which is also the chepaest way to buy it. Everything else is value-added, so it will cost a little more to buy. When we visited the shop, it was good to see a lot of people wandering in and out of the shop, all buying a great variety of things. We didn't buy any of the value-added stuff, mainly because I prefer to add value to our meaty meals in my own kitchen, but I got lots of ideas from here. We bought some French beef (10.50 euro a kilo, as opposed to 12 euro at supermarkets located near our home), and a village-style chicken, which means the skin and fat are yellow (they are free-range hens), not white (which resemble battery hens). Yellow-skinned chickens make good pilafi rice while white-skinned chickens cook more quickly.

The traditional way to buy meat in Crete 

Yiannis is situated just a few metres away from the Agora. You can't miss him, as you will immediately be struck by his mesmerising display of comestibles in the window.

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